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Birdwatching in Cape Verde

The Cape Verde Islands are an archipelago consisting of 10 islands and several islets situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 500 km west of Senegal, West Africa. The total land area is 4033 km2 scattered over 58.000 km2 of ocean. The population is about 400.000, about double the number live abroad. The volcanic, mountainous islands emerge steeply from depths of about 4000 m. Only Sal, Boavista and Maio are mostly flat, with white beaches. The climate is dry and sub- tropical but sea conditions are heavily influenced by the cool Canary current that comes from the north. Consistently strong northeast tradewinds produce rough seas, often making navigation around the islands difficult and hazardous. A former Portuguese colony, the islands gained independence and became the República de Cabo Verde in 1975. (Hazevoet, 2000). Together with the islands of the Azores, the Canaries and the Madeira-Selvagens, the Cape Verde Islands form the so called "Macaronesia", situated in the subtropical and tropical eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean.

"West coast of Santiago Island near Achada Leite"

Biogeographically, the Cape Verde Islands belong to the Western Palaearctic, and not to the Afrotropics. This gives them an additional importance for birders who are “collecting” Western-Palaearctic species: here they can add quite a number of new species to their list! The bird fauna of the Cape Verdes is not very diverse, but it holds a number of interesting, endemic species and subspecies in addition to migrants and guests from Western Africa and America. In this sense, the islands are absolutely worth a visit.

Birdingpaltours offers two birding tours in Cape Verde

14 day birdwatching tour to Cape Verde

4 day birdwatching tour to Cape Verde


Electronic map of Cape Verde

Tour I

14 days Santiago and other islands (optional), e.g. Razo or Fogo. Staying in Ecotec-House, our project base on the biggest beach of Santiago, near the lagoons, the reservoir and the Purple Heron colony. All meals there unless stated otherwise. A birding holiday including a few nice hikes.

Itinerary

Day 1.
Arrival at Praia International Airport (mostly around midnight from Lisbon). Pick-up from the airport by our English speaking guides and transfer (30 minutes) to Ecotec-House. A light meal and beers are waiting.
Morning: Bird walk near the house, on the beach, to the lagoon, into the palm garden. This will already show you some of the specialties: Cape Verde Warbler, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Jago Sparrow, Passer hispaniolensis and domesticus. Also some limicoles and herons. Lunch and dinner in Ecotec-House. Evening bird walk along the lagoon and into a palm garden.

Black Heron

Day 2.
Morning walk along the coast. Black-crowned Sparrow-lark, Bar-tailed Lark. Watch out for seabirds: Brown Booby, Cape Verde Shearwater, Evening: short drive to Purple Heron colony.
Day 3.
Morning free for sunbathing or swimming. Afternoon and evening at the reservoir: All the herons and egrets: grey, intermediate, cattle, purple, night, ralloides, garzetta, ardesiaca, Stilt, spoonbill, falcons in the mountains, endemic swift, Cape Verde Warbler, Spectacled Warbler. Maybe take pictures from a hide.
Day 4.
Whole day excursion to Praia. Cliffs with Red-billed Tropicbird. Cream coloured Courser. Visit the colourful markets. A light lunch in Praia. Afternoon in Cidade Velha, the old historical capital. Walk in Ribeira Grande. Beautiful landscape, waterfall, huge Baobabs and Kapok trees. (2-3 hrs walk).

Red-billed Tropicbird

Day 5 to 8.
Optional to Fogo for hiking and mountaineering, or to San Nicolao for birding on Razo Island, stop-over in Sal. Domestic flight cost about € 150.- from island to island, both ways, and must be booked by the guests themselves. Hotels, transfers and excursions/boat trip will be arranged and pre-paid.
If you decide to stay on Santiago and in Ecotec House these days 4 can easily be filled with more excursions, shooting from the hide, hiking of all degrees, fishing or just relaxing and reading.
Day 9.
Again in Ecotec House. Whole day easy hike through Kumba Canyon, swim on the beach. (4 hrs walk). Late lunch at Porto Madeira, an interesting village renovated in the course of an art project.

Grey-headed Kingfisher

Day 10.
Whole day taxi excursion to Assommada (market!) and the west coast. Picnic. Hike through Aguas Belas to a spectacular sea cave. (3 hrs walk). Swim. (1 hr walk). Beers in Ribeira da Barca. Watch out for seabirds.
Day 11.
Hike in Boca Larga, a fertile oasis in the backcountry of Pedra Badejo. (2 – 4 hrs walks)
Day 12.
Whole day taxi: first to lake. Morning at the reservoir. Botanical garden, Rui Vaz. Picnic. At the reservoir again in the evening for birding and taking pictures from the hide.
Day 13.
Hike into Montenegro Gorge to see the Barn Owl. (2 hrs walk). Dinner and transfer to the airport.
Day 14.
Flight back to Lisbon and home.


14 Day tour price is: 2 pax €1700 per person. 4 pax €1550 per person.
Single supplement: €250

Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.
Included:
all transfers, taxis, English speaking birding guide, full board.
Excluded:
Alcoholic drinks extra, does not include international flights.

Optional: 4 days on Fogo (Does not include domestic flight, ca. €150) and is not accompanied by our guides, but all transfers, full board, excursions arranged and local guides waiting for you): €600 per person.
4 days on San Nicolao with daily excursions and a boat tour to Razo and Branco.
Does not include domestic flight, (ca. €250) and is not accompanied by our guides, but all transfers, full board, excursions arranged and local guides waiting for you):
1000 per person (including the boat to Razo and Branco).
The trip to Razo and Branco will be prepared, but you undertake it at your own risk. The legal situation is unclear, officially you are not allowed to land, but you see all the birds from the boat! Razo Lark is a highly endangered and rare endemic, all the seabirds are to be seen there, including endemic Cape Verde Shearwater.


Tour II

4 Days on Santiago intensive birdwatching. (Can be combined with 4 day Fogo and/or Razo package).
Staying in Ecotec-House, our project base on the biggest beach of Santiago, near the lagoons, the reservoir and the Purple Heron colony. All meals there unless stated otherwise.


Itinerary

Day 1.
Arrival at Praia International Airport (mostly around midnight from Lisbon). Pick-up from the airport by our English speaking guides and transfer (30 minutes) to Ecotec-House. A light meal and beers are waiting.
Morning: Bird walk near the house, on the beach, to the lagoon, into the palm garden. This will already show you some of the specialties: Cape Verde Warbler, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Jago Sparrow, Passer hispaniolensis and domesticus. Also some limicoles and herons. Lunch and dinner in Ecotec-House. Evening bird walk along the lagoon and into a palm garden.
Day 2.
Morning walk along the coast. Black-crowned Sparrow-lark, Bar-tailed Lark. Watch out for seabirds: Brown Booby, Cape Verde Shearwater. Evening: drive to Botanical Garden for Cape Verde Buzzard and back via Purple Heron colony.
Day 3.
Morning at the reservoir. Assommada. Huge Kapok tree. Drive to the West Coast. Ribeira da Prata, swim on palm beach. Tarrafal. Serra Malagueta. Back on the east coast.
Day 4.
Whole day excursion to and around Praia. Cliffs with Red-billed Tropicbird. Cream coloured Courser. Visit the colourful markets. Lunch in Praia or picnic in Cidade Velha. Beautiful landscape, waterfall, huge Baobabs and Kapok trees. Sunset beers and dinner at the seaside. Transfer to airport and flight back to Lisbon around midnight.


4 Day tour price is: 2 pax €650 per person. 4 pax €550 per person.
Single supplement: €100

Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included:
all transfers, taxis, English speaking birding guide, full board.
Excluded:
Alcoholic drinks extra, does not include international flights.

Notes:
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
Transportation: Hired “Jassi” (Toyotoa Hiace) or on top of open Toyota Hiluxes (for shorter rides in good weather, to see more!).
Accomodation: On Santiago in Ecotec House (See longer text!!).
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time 2 month.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
Birding season: All year.

Fitness:
Without being able to hike at least 2-3 hrs you would definitely miss a lot, but as we have a hide for bird photography at the reservoir and as most birding is not done on the hikes, a pure birding trip does not demand extra fitness. The climatic conditions resemble our summer all year round.
Equipment:We even have some good binoculars and bird books for guests but no spotting scope! Photographic equipment: 400 mm (24/36 equivalent) required for birds. Good hiking shoes! Sun-hat. Sun cream..


Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Herbert.   

Birding guide Dr. Herbert Bödendorfer, your local Birdingpal guide
Since 2003 we, Dr. Herbert Bödendorfer, an Austrian geographer and photographer and my wife Eva, have set up an “Intercultural Nature Guide Training” to help develop sustainable eco-tourism on Santiago Island. Nature photography was an important medium in this work because we were able to show to the locals the beauty and value of their own nature. Santiago being the most diverse of all the islands it is the ideal place to combine a pleasant holiday with birding. Santa Cruz, a rural district of Santiago, has become a paradise for bird watchers and photographers. In one of the valleys the Chinese erected a dam to collect irrigation water which was completely filled for the first time in 2010. Parts of the lakeside are overgrown with reeds, some mudflats are always visible. It is easy to see and shoot birds there.
Most of the endemics are there: Bourne’s Purple Heron, Jago Sparrow, Cap Verde Warbler, Alexander’s Swift, Barn Owl, … The variety is astounding: sometimes you have 3 or 4 species in your glass’s view. Herons and egrets are represented by at least 7 species! In 2011 and 2012 two Garzetta ardesiaca were there. This glossy, dark egret with a very special way to hunt came to within meters of the hide. Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill are also there. Black-winged Stilt and Greenshank are abundant. The Grey-headed Kingfisher calls from the trees and Blackcap and Spectacled Warbler start to sing in February.
For bird photographers who want to stretch their back after a few days in the hide, Santaigo offers a lot of interesting landscapes. Hikes of all grades take you to wild coasts, deep canyons, volcanic rocks, green oases. Blend all this with the friendly local population, the interesting creole culture with its world famous music, the excellent food, and you get a touristic mix that couldn’t be tastier. And it gives you a special feeling: here you are not following the well-trodden paths of mass tourism. Here you are part of a real co-operation between tourists and locals, helping to develop a new eco-touristic destination.
Our project “Nature Guides Santiago” is presented on the website of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) www.8goals4future.at .
Our Website www.boedendorfer.com tells you more about our activities in Austria and abroad.
Our blog from Cabo Verde is http://geo-vision.blogspot.com/


Testimonials.

Ich war vom 27.2 bis 3.3. im Ecotec-Projekthaus und wurde in dieser Zeit von Herbert und Eva hervorragend betreut und konnte mich von dem Projekt voll überzeugen lassen. Celeste sorgte im Haus mit ihrem gutem Essen für das leibliche Wohl. Während dem Tag wurde ich auf meinen Beobachtungstouren hervorragend durch Fredy und Andriu betreut. Sie waren sehr freundlich, hilfsbereit und gingen auch sofort auf Wünsche ein, kannten sich gut mit den örtlichen Gegebenheiten aus. Sie wussten auch wo man am besten beobachten geht und kannten auch die einheimische Flora und Fauna. Während der gesamten Zeit fühlte ich mich sehr wohl und sehr gut aufgehoben. Ich freue mich bereits jetzt auf meinen nächsten Besuch. Peter Zeller zellerpe(AT)bluewin.ch
I was there from 27.2. to 3.3. and Herbert and Eva cared for me in the best possible way. I was fully convinced by this project. Celeste (the cook) supplied us with excellent food. Fredy and Andriu, the two guides, took care of me on the tours. They were friendly, always ready to help, answered to my wishes and knew the local conditions. They knew where to go birding and also knew the local fauna and flora. I enjoyed my stay very much and am looking forward to my next visit! Peter Zeller zellerpe(AT)bluewin.ch


Welcome to Casa Ecotec.

This house is owned by Mag. Hans G. Stoisser, Vienna, Austria. Dr. Herbert and Eva Bödendorfer, Leibnitz, Austria are responsible for it. “Fredy” Alecson Cardoso is in charge of the touristic management, Sra. Celeste is the cook and housekeeper.
The house: 3 rooms for rent, 2 bathrooms/WC, shady veranda, patio, garden. Architecture adapted to tropical conditions. Facilities suitable for western tourists, but not luxurious.
We are indeed trying to be as eco-friendly as possible, but in the context of the island’s economy this has limits. We buy re-usable beer bottles, we wash and re-use plastic bags, we dispose of our garbage in the municipal dump, we make warm water in solar collectors, we buy most of our food from local farmers. Meat, fish, vegetables, fruit are brought to our door. Still we are far from “eco-perfect”: like the whole island we mostly use electricity produced with diesel generators and have a little generator of our own for back-up. “Organic” food is practically unknown here and we cannot verify whether the food we cook meets European ecological standards, but we wash all vegetables and fruit in iodized water and by this prevent our guests from getting gastro-intestinal infections.
The Village: Achada Igreja (“Village of the church“), 2 km south of Pedra Badejo, 30 min by car from the capital Praia, Santiago Island, Cabo Verde, 500 km off the coast of Senegal. 2km of black, volcanic, sandy beach. Two lagoons (Important Bird Areas!), palm gardens and lush green valleys. Transfer time from international Airport in Praia: 30 min. Climate: Winter like European Summer, dry, 20-25 C. Summer up to 27 C. Pleasant sea breeze! Sea-water temperature: always around 25 C.
The adventure: Project to support sustainable, nature-based hiking-tourism. Intercultural Nature Guide Service. Guides speak English and some French. Excellent birding and plant-watching for endemics. One lagoon in view. The reservoir is 10 min. drive away, the Purple Heron colony 20 min. Tours all over Santiago Island and to other islands.

"Ecotec-House"

The telephone number is 00238 269 1064. The phone is on passive mode, you can be called, but cannot actively call!
Please save water! A roof-tank should supply enough water, even if the net is cut for a few days. The cistern is a further back-up. Drink only bottled water! One room has an attached bathroom, the other 2 rooms share two separate bathrooms. Power cuts happen frequently but rarely last longer than a few hours. Candles and torches should be ready! Bed-sheets and towels are changed every week unless you give them to Celeste earlier to wash. In the evening put all your things (shoes, towels, clothes) indoors! The house has no real fence and thieves should not be invited! Always keep the backdoor of your room locked. Lock your front door when leaving!
A final note: Ecotec-House is connected with a development project. For almost 30 years here the usual mistakes were avoided: nobody ever gave sweets to the kids and thus induced begging, nobody ever took girls or boys into the rooms to pay for sex and thus induced prostitution. Irresponsible behaviour of our guests can quickly destroy the mutual trust and respect that protect us here. Please do not see this as an attempt to mess around in your private affairs, but this is not a hotel, where your behaviour goes largely unnoticed. If guests want to support the village or one family please talk to Fredy or Celeste, they will contact the Village Development Committee.


More facts about Cape Verde.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

A Field Guide to the Birds of the Atlantic Islands: Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde (Helm Field Guides) [Paperback]
BANNERMAN, D. A. & BANNERMAN, W. M. (1968): Birds of the Atlantic Islands. Vol. IV. A History of the Birds of the Cape Verde Islands. Oliver & Boyd. Edinburgh. 458 pp.
HAZEVOET, C.J. (1992). A review of the Santiago Purple Heron Ardea purpurea bournei, with a report of a new colony. Bird Conservation International 2 pp 15-23. Download this paper.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (1992) Migrant and resident waders in the Cape Verde Islands. Wader Study Group Bulletin 64 pp. 46-50. Download this paper.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (1994) Status and conservation of seabirds in the Cape Verde Islands, pp. 279-293 (in): D.N. Nettleship, J. Burger & M. Gochfeld (eds.), Seabirds on Islands. Threats, Case Studies and Action Plans. BirdLife Conservation Series No. 1. Cambridge.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (1995) The Birds of the Cape Verde Islands. Check-list No. 13. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring.
HAZEVOET, C. J., FISCHER, S. & DELOISON, G. (1996) Ornithological news from the Cape Verde Islands in 1995, including records of species new to the archipelago. Bull. zool. Mus. Univ. Amsterdam 15 pp 21-27.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (1997) Notes on distribution, conservation, and taxonomy of birds from the Cape Verde Islands, including records of six species new to the archipelago. Bull. zool. Mus. Univ. Amsterdam 15 pp 89—100.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (1998) Third annual report on birds from the Cape Verde Islands, including records of seven taxa new to the archipelago. Bull. zool. Mus. Univ. Amsterdam 16 pp 65-72.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (1999a) Fourth report on birds from the Cape Verde Islands, including notes on conservation and records of 11 taxa new to the archipelago. Bull. zool. Mus. Univ. Amsterdam 17: 19—32.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (1999b) Notes on birds from the Cape Verde Islands in the collection of the Centro de Zoologia, Lisbon, with comments on taxonomy and distribution. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 119 pp 25—31.
HAZEVOET, C. J., MONTEIRO, L. R. & RATCLIFFE, N. (1999) Rediscovery of the Cape Verde Warbler Acrocephalus brevipennis on São Nicolau in February 1998. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 119 pp 68—71.
HAZEVOET, C.J. Cape Verde, pp 161-168 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11). Download this paper.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (2003) Fifth report on birds from the Cape Verde Islands, including records of 15 taxa new to the archipelago. Arq. Mus. Bocage, N.S., 3 (19) pp 503-528.
HAZEVOET, C. J. (2010) Sixth report on birds from the Cape Verde Islands, including records of 25 taxa new to the archipelago. Zoologia Caboverdiana 1 (1) pp 3-44. Download this paper.

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Bird Recordings from Cape Verde

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Last update 20/02/2014